Love Will Tear Us Apart Again

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about my first kiss with the school bad boy Johnny James.

This week on Cricket’s Slice Of Life she’s got us going back to High School again with the prompt High School Romance.



Do you think when a sixteen year old boy gives a sixteen year old girl a locket like this and says he will love her forever that he ever remembers that moment years later?

Johnny gave me that locket 27 years ago. We have since moved on to different lives. We are possibly entirely different people, but the locket still contains vestiges of what I thought was true love.

It makes me smile when I take it out of the box I keep it in. I never wear it anymore. I used to wear it for years until someone asked me why I still wore it, asked me if I was waiting for Johnny to come back.

Johnny and I went out for a year. My mother and father were angry about it. They thought he was a bad apple. I will admit to dating him initially because I knew it would irritate them but also because I couldn’t resist the image being his girlfriend painted in my mind. Me, a straight-A student, a Prefect, going out with the school bad boy. Maybe that meant I was bad too. And that was my aim in life under the squeaky clean smile and air of dependability I wore – I wanted to be viewed by my peers as someone who lived close to the edge.

I pictured giving lip to teachers, petty theft and street brawls as Johnny’s girlfriend. Instead I got discussions about home and family, life and death, and lots and lots of reading and writing.

Johnny wanted to be a writer. He is the only person I have ever met who showed a truly natural inclination as a writer. He saw it, he thought it, he wrote it. That was his process. He taught me that everything can be turned into a story.

He used the most mundane things to add vividness to his stories. Doors on squeaky hinges, dirty windows, letters thrown unopened into garbage bins. He had such an eye for detail it was like he was mentally photographing everything he saw. I, with my style of quirky observation, found it hard to keep up with him. He was as methodical as a scientist.

We had more of a writing partnership than a proper romance. We wrote short stories, poems and plays. One of our plays was performed at the school drama festival. We were the only students to have a play included, even though it was a ridiculous murder mystery set in Victorian England. I think someone died by drinking champagne laced with cyanide. Very Edgar Allen Poe meets Agatha Christie.

We were the Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes of our day (although obviously not as successful or tragic, but they were the only writing couple that came to mind at short notice….)

While I had fun writing, I mean, I have always loved to write, I was disappointed. I wanted to stick it to the establishment, live life as a renegade and a vagabond, not wander into the local park and have Johnny stand in the middle of a copse of trees and say: ‘Listen to that, it’s the sound of hundreds of years of wisdom, right here, right now. You can learn a lot from trees.’

I felt a little miffed. All this writing was doing nothing to convince the popular girls that I was beyond cool and that I had street cred to burn. Johnny, with his James Dean looks and Billy Idol sneer, was turning out to be a bit of a let down.

Despite that, I did fall in love with him. He had a wit and sensitivity that was hard to resist. And being with him, laughing with him, writing our crazy stories together, was a wonderful time for me. Overall, because I could just be myself, it was a bit of a relief.

Johnny moved away in our final year of school. He was only seventeen and couldn’t afford to stay in Sydney on his own, so he had to move interstate with his mother. He tried to be flippant about it, saying that being in love interfered with his writing, but I could see how torn up about it he was.

I cried for over a month, listening to Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart on a loop. Even now, when I hear that song I get a little pang.

Johnny did become a successful writer. The last I heard he was living in New York. He writes under a pseudonym. I have no idea if he lives there still or if he would even recognise me if we happened to pass one another on the street. Or if I would recognise him. It has, after all, been 27 years.

31 thoughts on “Love Will Tear Us Apart Again

  1. first loves are always the most special… even when they don’t really happen until you are well into your twenties… somehow everything else pales,, when you think about the heart stopping end of that love…


  2. PAISLEY – Oh, I know exactly what you mean. There is something so inordinately special about that first bloom of love. I often envy people who marry their first love. It must be so nice to share all that history. If it works, that is. Maybe in my next life……


  3. Well good morning from Oklahoma in the good ole USofA. This was a very sweet writing and I am very glad that Linda sent me here to read up on you. Isn’t life funny how things work out. I remember my “bad boy” from high school as well. He did not turn out as good as yours. But I do wonder about the “what ifs” What if I had not gone off to college leaving him behind? What if he had not married the girl that said she was pregnant with his child? What if he would have found out sooner that the child was not his? What if I had not married another? Oh the what ifs of life….. Nice meeting you.


  4. So the bad boy didn’t turn out to be so bad. That’s a good one. I used to date the bad girls, which basically meant that they were off with the next guy after about 5 minutes.


  5. I think he would remember you. In fact, I think you should track him down. If he’s a writer, it shouldn’t be too hard. What have you got to lose? One can never have too many friends.


  6. Do we ever truly get over our first romance? I can remember the details of mine like it was yesterday. It would be interesting to think about meeting an ‘old’ love after many, many years. I’m guessing in your case Selma, that John would certainly remember you and in a wonderful, warm way.

    Great trip down memory lane; thanks Selma.

    I’m humming….a tune from my high school days right now “come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now….”(A hit before your time I’m sure !!!) dancing that last dance of the night with Doug. Wow, what a looker he was. 😉 He’s an engineer now but current location unknown.

    Wishing you a great day, G


  7. Hi Selma,Great first romance story.Linda(my daughter-in-law) mentioned stopping by to read your blogs I do not post much but love to read them.Now you know I’m quite a bit older but OH those first loves.We will never forget I sure do remember my first love after50some years &still wonder how he’s doing.I agree try to get a hold of him always nice to catch up w/friends whether there guys or girls


  8. Sometimes my mind takes the liberty to play music without my permission that I get distracted and forget what I really mean to say…

    What I was gonna say was… Some memories last more than others, don’t they? Especially the ones that have been pivotal in our personal growth. Those are fond, bittersweet and they make you want to think… if only!


  9. Sigh… I never had a highschool romance. I think I was Invisible Girl at school. I fell in love for the first time at 22, and I married him. But he’s more than made up for the lack of love I had as a child. 🙂


  10. I saw my first (insert expletive that starts with F), about 10 years after our “encounter” — I wouldn’t have recognized him. I work in a hospital, I only recognized his name. And he, well, if he recognized me he didn’t let on. (Probably the best since his wife was having a baby at the time.


  11. “I have no idea if he lives there still or if he would even recognise me if we happened to pass one another on the street. Or if I would recognise him. It has, after all, been 27 years.”

    You know what Selma? I think you just might. And so would he 🙂


  12. Wow that’s amazing that Johnny became a successful writer and moved to NY. Something tells me he would remember you Selma, you were obviously special to him too.


  13. LISA J – well, what a pleasure to meet you. And all the way from Oklahoma. I have heard it is a truly beautiful place to live. I know all about the ‘what ifs…’ it can be interesting to dwell on them, wondering how our lives would have worked out if we’d gone in another direction. So glad you stopped by.

    BEAR – I would say that is quite true in some cases. I know a lot of people who have never gotten over their first loves. But second or third loves can be just as good!

    RICHARD – I remember some of those girls. They were the same with friendships, always looking over their shoulders in case someone better came along. Damn their flightiness!

    LINDA – my friend, Mel, who is the biggest busybody the world has ever known(I say that with affection) is going to try and find him when she goes to the US next month. I am feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing mainly because I know I didn’t try hard enough to make it as a writer. If only I had pushed myself just a little more…..


  14. GERALDINE – well, I do know that song, by the Youngbloods, I believe. (If I didn’t know it I would be in strife with my hubby who sells all things 60s and 70s in his shop). Great song. What an equally great memory of your first love. Isn’t it funny how popular songs of the time act as a soundtrack to our lives?

    BARB – what a wonderful daughter-in-law you have. She is such a lovely person. That you still remember your first love after 50 years has touched me so much. I am so glad you stopped by. Nice to meet you.

    CHRIS – I could be wrong but I think Love Song might have been out at the same time – 1980? 1981? I’ll check. FAB track. Oh yeah, the bittersweet memories stay with us. It’s not just the first love thing we remember but our youth, our innocence, our idealism. It would be nice to feel that way again!

    DAOINE – well shame on those high school boys for making you feel invisible. What were they thinking? But to find and marry your first love – that is so special. Awwww. I feel all happy just thinking about it!

    NAT – OMG, you crack me up, you wild child. Johnny James and I never went to bed together. We went to a strict Catholic school. 😉

    ROSHAN – you know one of the reasons I love you, my dear? You are a born romantic. What a sweet thing to say!

    GYPSY – Maybe we’ll meet up one of these days. One thing I have learnt in life is that you can never say never!


  15. Perhaps I should put it this way…

    One can discover the highest mountain on earth but once.

    We all discover the highest mountain that we have ever discovered,
    but there’s always higher ones out there.
    In our blissful ignorance we will be happy that we have found the one,
    however it could always be superseded except that we have stopped the search.
    If we do finally discover Everest it will be our first highest mountain on earth but at the same time our last.

    I wonder how many of us ever find Everest.


  16. I remember my first crushes well. But I never had a high school romance. And the first time I fell in love was with my ex-husband. After surviving a long, unhappy relationship, there is no nostalgic, idealized longing left.


  17. BEAR – I think tubby bears are very smart deep down. I get you. I’m glad you found the one.

    INGRID – Oh, absolutely. I have a couple of ex-partners I wouldn’t save from a burning building. If it ends badly it’s all over, red rover as far as I’m concerned. But if it ends amicably, part of you always wonders…..


  18. I loved this post, Selma. I too, have a beloved keepsake from my first great love. P.J. actualy MADE a bracelet for me, from bits of discarded copper wire(in the 1970’s there WAS such a thing as discarded copper!)He welded it into a braided-fashion, and occasionally, I take out the tiny, banded “cuff” bracelet, and even put it on. It is like, I don’t know, trying on my girlhood again. Or something.


  19. Oooh, that’s so romantic… *sigh*. I was one of the invisible ones in high school, but I had my share of crushes. In fact, I saw one of my crushes recently, and, um… he was still pretty handsome, until he opened his mouth. EW!

    But now I’m curious to know who this bad boy is and what he writes. It sounds like he would be someone I’d enjoy reading. I know, you can’t spill the beans because of privacy, but still… the eternal romantic in me would love to know. LOL!


  20. WOW – a bad boy with yen for writing – so misunderstood. I believe a first love can never be forgotten, not should it be. It was the beginning of our adulthood. Isn’t it fun remembering those days – with all the excitement and even the heartbreaks.


  21. LISA – I remember those bracelets. They were really cool. Making things from copper wire was all the rage. Oh, I know what you mean about how you feel when you try it on – so many emotions come to the fore. It IS like being a girl again. What is comforting is the fact that parts of that girl are still there inside us. It doesn’t take much to bring them back.

    KAREN – you could never be invisible. Those boys didn’t know what they were missing. Maybe one day I shall divulge all about JJ. Guess I should ask him first!

    CRICKET – I can’t tell you how glad I am that you started up Slice Of Life. It has ben so rewarding to remember all those times in my life. Sometimes as an adult we think :’I haven’t done anything with my life. I’ll look back at the end of it and I’ll have accomplished nothing.’ But your prompts have made me realise there are so many stories and moments that make up one person and that each of them is worth something. Thank you.

    JASON – now that would be amazing. I am tempted to find out…..


  22. CRAFTY GREEN – who would’ve thought? I was expecting oodles of teenage rebellion, instead I got book reviews and writer’s cramp. Great song, isn’t it?


  23. Of course you’d recognize each other. It would be in the eyes, and the manner. …and he has remembered you vividly throughout his life. I’d put money on it.


  24. MELEAH – you are so right – it is the most painful. Maybe because we’re generally younger with our first love and not as equipped to deal with things, although pain is pain at any age. As my Aunt Jo always says: “Love hurts, get used to it!”

    EPIPHANY – I’d like to think we would recognise each other too. What a wild ride that’d be!


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